- Kenyans living with HIV have entered into yet another row with the government challenging the Anti-Counterfeit Act saying it would deny them access to life-saving drugs.
Challenging the law in court, the group said the Act will interfere with the importation and sale of generic drugs if the medication may be considered counterfeit. “This would deny us the highest attainable right to life as the cost of drugs might be beyond our reach,” the group said.
The Act passed in December 2008, has a number of sections which the group felt would hamper the delivery of life saving drugs to thousand of Kenya’s who depend on the drugs.
Local reports said most of the country’s more than 1.4 million people living with HIV and AIDS rely on first line generic anti-retroviral drugs, namely 3TC (lamivudine), AZT (Zidovudine) and NVP (Nevirapine).
The group said the sections 2, 32 and 34 will deny them access to drugs necessary for the fulfillment of the quality of life they are guaranteed under the Constitution, further stating that the Act fails to acknowledge and specifically exempt generic drugs from the definition of counterfeit goods.
“Its failure to provide a clear definition of counterfeit goods effectively prohibits importation and manufacture of generic drugs in the country,” it said.
However, critics said the government is under pressure from big pharmaceutical companies, who are pushing for the enactment as most of the generic drugs will be deemed counterfeit thus being banned, putting thousands of HIV patients at risk.
In December last year, International human rights group has accused the Kenyan government of neglecting children in the roll out of life saving drugs, saying half of all children born with HIV will die before their second birthdays.
Analysts said if the new law could be enacted, the very same group which has reportedly been left out in the roll out of life saving drugs, will be the most affected.
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